Saturday, 1 May 2010

Election Week

A lot of talk out there is now about politics. I thought the campaign would be dull, but it has turned out to be full of surprising twists and turns. This week I tuned into Sky News just in time to see "bigotgate" unfold right before my eyes. Poor Mrs Duffy, mugged by a politician for using the "I" word, the issue that dare not speak its name.

We vote according to what we experience in life and how the Government of the day touches our lives. For the last 13 years under Labour, I worked in HR so my perception of Government was formed by what I saw: rise in National Insurance costs (which cost me personally and also raised costs in my business), the decimation of final salary pension schemes due to the changes in tax and regulation - I actually had to close one scheme myself as we could no longer afford the risk and costs, a massive increase in legislation and regulation which meant my job changed from enabling my business to succeed into preventing it getting sued. I could go on.

Add to that my experience since becoming self-employed; the fall of sterling against both the Euro and the Dollar making many products 25% more expensive, the removal of the 10% tax rate, the crashing of the economy reducing turnover in my business and you can see I really don't want more of the same.

The expenses scandal has made many people even more cynical (if that's possible) than before. My local MP managed to spend £60 of my money on window cleaning for her office each month. That's enough to clean the windows of my house for almost a whole year. I'm leaving aside the fact she managed to get through £250 of "petty cash" every month too and do enough mileage to have driven to London and back three times every 10 days. Funnily it was the window cleaning that really took the biscuit! ( by the way, if I recall correctly, the excuse for the petty cash claims was tea, coffee and biscuits for the staff - that's a lot of tea and coffee!)

With the swings in the opinion polls, the Labour car crashes on TV (literally!) it has been the most exciting election I remember. So I am tempted to stay up on Thursday night to watch the drama unfold. I want to see my MP lose her seat, and I'm hoping to see a few more of the politicians I most despise lose the income and job security they have cost others over recent years.

What I want from the incoming Government, whoever it is, is recognition of the place small businesses have in our economy, that we and the general working public are not a cash cow simply to service the Government, and that we start to live within our means, not mortgaging the future of our children with massive amounts of debt.

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